BRAC Brings Big Volume Home Builders from Out of Town

  Howard Jefferson tells me that some local home builders are not happy with him. He says it’s because his company is working hand in glove with out-of-town builders who are building homes cheaper than they can. Howard is the Principal Alabama Broker for Coldwell Banker Kennon Parker Duncan & Key. (Disclosure: we are in the same Rotary club.) He has empathy for the local builders, many of whom he has worked with over the years, but says the large building firms are a reality of the times.

 

 

 

Howard Jefferson

Coldwell Banker Kennon Parker Duncan & Key

 

 

  The thing about it, though, is that, during this housing sales slump, his firm is selling a lot of new houses. And, with BRAC bringing close to 30,000 new people into the area, they expect to sell a lot more.  The reason the houses built by huge out-of-town firms are selling is simple: price. 

 

  The main action right now is in Russell and Lee Counties, and Phenix City in Alabama. “There is more land available, and you get more house for the money, and taxes are lower than in Columbus,” he told me.  He should know; he heads up the Coldwell Banker group in the Russell and Lee Counties’ area of Alabama. 

 

“We are the number one real estate company in this area.  We get a 35 percent share of all homes listed in Columbus, and a 40 percent share in the Phenix City, Russell and Lee County area.” 

 

  Howard took me on a tour of the Fort Mitchell area which was an eye-opener. First of all, he took me to a subdivision built by local builders that have a lot of houses for sale. Then he took me to Villages at Westgate, which is close to the Fort Benning west gate, the one that’s on the back side of Lawson Field.

 

 

 

Fort Benning’s West Gate

 

 

 

 These houses are selling just about as fast as they can build them, which shows that you don’t have to wait for BRAC to sell homes to Fort Benning soldiers. Tim Drew, a realtor on the site, says about 60 percent of home owners at Westgate are soldiers and their families.

 

 

 

Villages at Westgate

 

 

  Coldwell Bankers is selling them for Scenic Homes, which is headquartered in Snellville, Georgia. Scenic has constructed more than 5,000 homes in Georgia, Louisiana, North and South Carolina.  It’s the 54th largest builder in the country. Scenic claims that “Scenic Homes offers a wide variety of floor plans with up to approximately 2,900 square feet at a fraction of the cost of their competitors.”  Actually, according to Drew, the homes get as large as 3,059 square feet.

 

How can they do that?  For one thing, economy of scale. They can get better prices for building materials because of the large quantities they buy. Also, they have cheap labor, Howard told me. Who else makes tons of money using that philosophy? How about Wal-Mart?

 

  The houses in Westgate are impressive. It’s hard to believe that you can get such a large, new home for the price. 

 

 

 

 

 

 Great Room of a Westgate home

 

 

 

 

 

These homes range in price from $169,000 to $203,000. Coldwell Banker has already sold more than a hundred of them, and expects, before it’s all over, to sell more than 700 of them. The Fort Mitchell area is expected to grow by at least three thousand people as a result of the move of the 3rd Armor School to Fort Benning starting in the 4th quarter of next year.

 

    We’ll continue our look at the way BRAC will affect our area in future posts. Stay tuned. 

 

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3 Responses to “BRAC Brings Big Volume Home Builders from Out of Town”

  1. Lavonda Forbes Says:

    Dick,
    I don’t shop at Walmarts because their philosophy has run many small stores and manufactories out of business. I prefer to give the extra nickle saved at Walmarts to local store owners (the few left). Maybe Georgia Scenic will get rid of our small local builders and their employees.
    Lavonda

  2. Austin Reed Says:

    Dick:

    I am grateful that we have companies like Coldwell Banker and Scenic. Times are tough right now and I think we need to get all we can for our hard earned dollar.

    A previous commenter wrote that she preferred to give the extra nickel that could be saved at Wal-Mart to local storeowners. She certainly has that right, but when purchasing a home, that nickel saved on a small item translates to about $30,000 saved on a home. I’m not willing to take that kind of money away from my family just to feel good about supporting a local business.

    Austin Reed

  3. Claudette Says:

    Well, That’s great for the buyers !!!! But just wait until the house is closed and you move in and the builder is long gone. No where to be found took his MONEY and ran. Who will fix the mess he has left the buyer with. Oh that ‘s right the buyer that saved so much money. Will twice as much to fix the so called good work….

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